To me, Wendigo’s are the most unique and terrifying creature of all time because nothing makes you more fearful than a creature that was once human but now is a flesh-eating beast. Through literature studies in college, I remember briefly reading about the creatures (it was in the middle of North American Trickster tales that sent me on quite the search online) and then later seeing them through films and a video game. They are extremely fascinating, especially how other artists/writers/filmmakers have provided their own interpretations of them.
WHAT IS IT?
Wendigo’s are described physically in many ways, but the creature itself is a demonic spirit. According to Algonquian Indians, the creature would possess a human in the traumatic aftermath of when the human resorted to cannibalism. This would often happen when individuals got lost in the woods, separated from their tribe. Upon returning, the individual would be violent towards other humans, soon becoming anti-social. However, there are conflicting reports saying it’s the demon itself that forces the host to become a cannibal.
Not only is the possessed person emotionally changed, but also physically. Depending on different folklore, or interpretations, the creature itself is gaunt and large, half human with a deer head and antlers and fifteen feet tall. With protruding bones almost piercing its yellow/grey skin, and with the insides made of ice. Their eyes are sunken in, their lips bloody and tattered. From the literal sense, a Wendigo is more representative of a psychosis. Individuals killing and consuming another person fall right into the sin of gluttony. This is appropriate because the creatures’ hunger is never satisfied – though through consumption, the creatures would grow larger. Despite the differences in folklore/interpretations, killing and burning the creature seems to destroy it – fire being the key. This could be due to the ice innards or just plain fire kills everything.
Wendigo’s come mainly from the northern United States and Canada in the Algonquin tribes mythology. Though the myths vary, first accounts of these creatures (or this condition) were seen as early as the 17th century.
Luckily, there are many examples I can note for the Wendigos for novels, movies, TV shows and even video games:
This subject can be endless, and considering the legend of the creature dwells in the woods, it’s a great scare factor. Many books cover this creature, but let me tell you – there are still ways to build a story around Wendigos:
- Wendigos not in their usual habitat. Despite loving the video game “Until Dawn,” I was curious how the story would play out in a city, the creature lurking in areas you use everyday – a subway, in the park at night, a college campus during winter break.
- Inside the mind of the character turning into the creature.
- Wendigo apocalypse. Booooom. Enough said.